Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Para Cress, Toothache Plant, Eyeball Plant
Acmella oleracea 'Peek-A-Boo'

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acmella (ak-MEL-uh) (Info)
Species: oleracea (awl-lur-RAY-see-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Peek-A-Boo

Synonym:Spilanthes oleracea

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Happenstance
Thumbnail #1 of Acmella oleracea by Happenstance

By htop
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By TamiMcNally
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By patp
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By htop
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By htop
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By PurplePansies
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There are a total of 11 photos.
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7 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive MAB123 On Oct 28, 2011, MAB123 from Reisterstown
United States wrote:

This plant is an absolute blessing when you are wearing braces! I have only had them on for a couple of weeks and without the leaves and flowers I would be miserable. I use the flowers on the sides of my mouth at night to keep the braces from hurting me so wax isn't on them constantly. The leaves sit next to them during the day.

I have frozen them so I will have them this winter and they are just as effective.


Positive slatwood On Sep 6, 2008, slatwood from Sun City, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Spilanthes needs at least filtered shade in PM in Phoenix area. It self-seeds readily, and foliage rebounds wonderfully even if allowed to dry out. The reference to it as a "culinary herb" truly surprised me. Apparently, cooking heat inactivates the enzyme which gives the plant its common name - Toothache Plant: chewing the leaves will deaden your entire mouth - teeth, tongue, gums, lips. If overdone, it can pose problems swallowing.

But as a Sun City plant, it's perfect: it is absolutely Rabbit-Proof!

Positive htop On Mar 31, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

The eyeball plant I had last summer was in a container where it received filtered shade from an oak tree. Its seeds fell in 2 containers and surprised me by sprouting in them while they were in my greenhouse. I didn't know what the 2 plants were until the blooms appeared in March. I will sprinkle the seeds as they ripen in different areas of my yard and hope that they will germinate. All of my visitors love the unusual blooms.

Positive Valiche On Dec 1, 2004, Valiche from Roselle, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This was a cute plant. I didn't think it would grow as large as it did but what a nice suprise. Some of the seed heads fell into the soil. We'll see how good it is at self sowing for next season.

Positive WillowWasp On Aug 14, 2004, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is my first year to grow this plant and I love it. It is a very bright and cheery bloom. It also keeps quite sometime as a cut flower. I will plant it again next year but alot more of it.

Positive patp On Aug 14, 2004, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a fun plant to own. When I gave one to an ill friend and said I was going to keep 'my eye' on him to cheer him up, he chuckled. When the plant needs water, it looks like boiled spinach but perks up after watering. It's very easy to start new plants - just squeeze the eyeball over soil and bunches of new plants will grow.

Positive Happenstance On Aug 30, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Good border plant, needs afternoon shade in 9b, native to Brazil where it is a culinary herb (leaves & flowerheads).
Adds spots of color to a shaded location.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Arley, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Sun City, Arizona
Clayton, California
Santee, California
Delmar, Delaware
Meade, Kansas
Cumberland, Maryland
Joppa, Maryland
Reisterstown, Maryland
Mathiston, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Saint Louis, Missouri
Roselle, New Jersey
Staten Island, New York
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Florence, Oregon
Klingerstown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Frisco, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Magnolia, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Stephenville, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Seattle, Washington

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